Thursday, July 17, 2008

An Adventure a Day...

If not more! Yesterday was full of adventures. First, in the morning I walked to a park on the hill in between Doekpo (where we live) and Okpo (where everyone else lives and all the shopping is). Keegan and I had visited the park on Sunday, and I knew that I wanted to try out the exercise equipment there. It was about a 25 minute walk to the park, including a very slow walk up a steep hill in the heat. The exercise equipment is fun - it's a little like those fitness trails that we have in the states, but there are some ingenious machines there, like the leg and arm weight machines that enable you to lift your own body instead of using weights. There are also some really fun machines where you stand on a movable platform and either rotate your body or swing your legs from side to side. I'll have to take more pictures, because it's hard to describe! By the time I walked there, goofed around on the machines, and walked back, I had a good hour's workout. On the way back through the little park in Doekpo, an older Korean woman said something to me and motioned with her hand that she was impressed with how tall I am. I'm huge in Korea.

In the afternoon, Glenda and one of her students, Gloria, came by and took me to a friend's house for "coffee." The friend is Alla, a Ukrainian woman who lives just up the hill from us in a gorgeous little house with a great view of the water. She showed us around and fed us all kinds of Ukrainian traditional food, including buckwheat porridge (I had had this before when I lived with Laryssa in Poland - not bad, like rice but with a bitter taste) and minced chicken with onions and mushrooms. She also had toast with delectable homemade cheese and dill. Mmmmm! After we had eaten a bit, a few more women showed up: Svetlana from Bulgaria (who surprisely looked and sounded like your favorite British granny), Olga from Russia, and Nargis (sp???) from Uzbekistan. Olga has a tremendous sense of humor and regaled us with all sorts of funny stories about her dog Mishka (a chow-chow) and about her encounters with Koreans at the gym and around the island. (Excerpt: "And then...she made some 'sounds.' You know. Gas sounds!") There was a lot of laughter. I certainly don't fit in with this group yet, but I liked them all a lot and hope we'll have a chance to get together for another four-hour coffee and food fest soon.

In the evening, we had yet another social engagement, this time with Glenda and her husband John and Jacki and her husband Matt. Jacki and Matt live in an apartment complex that has a nice outdoor grilling area, and they made all kinds of food on the grill. I was amazed at what they'd managed to put together because I am beginning to see how many stores you have to go to to find all the ingredients for American-style recipes. Jacki and Matt have two young kids, and we enjoyed their antics after dinner, as they rushed to show Keegan and I all of their most prized possessions. I enjoyed spending time with those two families and anticipate that we'll spend even more with them in the future.

Today's adventure involved my first trip on the bus, which went off without a hitch. The bus comes right past our apartment every hour, so it's very convenient, and it was actually quite a nice bus, with air conditioning and a clean, new look. When I took it this afternoon around 1 it wasn't too crowded. I went shopping at the two supermarkets I've been introduced to in Okpo and then struggled through the streets with my heaping shopping bag, looking for the taxi stand for a ride back to Doekpo. Next time I go shopping in town, I will a) bring a large reusable bag (or two) that is easier to carry, b) remember where the taxi stand is and c) not buy so much! More frequent, small trips are the way to go when you're shopping without a car, I must remember. I'm sure I was worth staring at as I struggled through the streets with my heaping bag, looking desperately for taxis and sweating like a pig. But, in the end, my trip was successful, and now we can have baked potatoes for dinner tonight!

3 comments:

sap said...

Ellen:
I really appreciate your experience going to the grocery and trying to struggle back to the apartment. There's got to be a better way. Maybe a small rolling cart that has a bag and can be collapsed? A challenge for sure. I love your blog. Are you receiving email from any of us? I was just curious if anything is coming through. Take care.
Love,
Sue

spp said...

Ellen: Thanks for all the details. It is actually as if we are there, right along with you. You are clearly very adventurous and so willing to put yourself "out there" so to speak. Question: How is your Korean coming? Could you understand anything the Korean woman said to you? And, I am so glad Glenda is introducing you to her friends. Boy, you and Keegan ae going to have contacts from all over the entire world at this rate. Keep writing and see if you can encourage Keegan to jot a few words into his blog about work. And,could you post a link to Keegan's blog on you website too so folks could just click on it to see what he's written? Just an idea. See ya' Your favorite Father-in-law (right?) :) SPP

Heidi said...

Hey Guys!

This is the first time since your arrival in Korea that I am reading your blog and it sounds so exciting! The pics are great and you sound great. I don't think even Ryan would eat "sphincter fish" and as you know, he'll eat a pig's ass if you cook it right.
Love
Trinie